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1.  Identification and characterisation of non-coding small RNAs in the pathogenic filamentous fungus Trichophyton rubrum 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:931.
Accumulating evidence demonstrates that non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are indispensable components of many organisms and play important roles in cellular events, regulation, and development.
Here, we analysed the small non-coding RNA (ncRNA) transcriptome of Trichophyton rubrum by constructing and sequencing a cDNA library from conidia and mycelia. We identified 352 ncRNAs and their corresponding genomic loci. These ncRNA candidates included 198 entirely novel ncRNAs and 154 known ncRNAs classified as snRNAs, snoRNAs and other known ncRNAs. Further bioinformatic analysis detected 96 snoRNAs, including 56 snoRNAs that had been annotated in other organisms and 40 novel snoRNAs. All snoRNAs belonged to two major classes—C/D box snoRNAs and H/ACA snoRNAs—and their potential target sites in rRNAs and snRNAs were predicted. To analyse the evolutionary conservation of the ncRNAs in T. rubrum, we aligned all 352 ncRNAs to the genomes of six dermatophytes and to the NCBI non-redundant nucleotide database (NT). The results showed that most of the identified snRNAs were conserved in dermatophytes. Of the 352 ncRNAs, 102 also had genomic loci in other dermatophytes, and 27 were dermatophyte-specific.
Our systematic analysis may provide important clues to the function and evolution of ncRNAs in T. rubrum. These results also provide important information to complement the current annotation of the T. rubrum genome, which primarily comprises protein-coding genes.
PMCID: PMC3890542  PMID: 24377353
2.  Urinary proteomic and non-prefractionation quantitative phosphoproteomic analysis during pregnancy and non-pregnancy 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:777.
Progress in the fields of protein separation and identification technologies has accelerated research into biofluids proteomics for protein biomarker discovery. Urine has become an ideal and rich source of biomarkers in clinical proteomics. Here we performed a proteomic analysis of urine samples from pregnant and non-pregnant patients using gel electrophoresis and high-resolution mass spectrometry. Furthermore, we also apply a non-prefractionation quantitative phosphoproteomic approach using mTRAQ labeling to evaluate the expression of specific phosphoproteins during pregnancy comparison with non-pregnancy.
In total, 2579 proteins (10429 unique peptides) were identified, including 1408 from the urine of pregnant volunteers and 1985 from the urine of non-pregnant volunteers. One thousand and twenty-three proteins were not reported in previous studies at the proteome level and were unique to our study. Furthermore, we obtained 237 phosphopeptides, representing 105 phosphoproteins. Among these phosphoproteins, 16 of them were found to be significantly differentially expressed, of which 14 were up-regulated and two were down-regulated in urine samples from women just before vaginal delivery.
Taken together, these results offer a comprehensive urinary proteomic profile of healthy women during before and after vaginal delivery and novel information on the phosphoproteins that are differentially regulated during the maintenance of normal pregnancy. Our results may provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of pregnancy maintenance, potentially leading to the development of biomarker-based sensitive assays for understanding pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3832905  PMID: 24215720
Proteomic profile; Quantitative phosphoproteomic analysis; Human urine; Pregnancy and non-pregnancy; mTRAQ labeling
3.  A proteogenomic analysis of Shigella flexneri using 2D LC-MALDI TOF/TOF 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:528.
New strategies for high-throughput sequencing are constantly appearing, leading to a great increase in the number of completely sequenced genomes. Unfortunately, computational genome annotation is out of step with this progress. Thus, the accurate annotation of these genomes has become a bottleneck of knowledge acquisition.
We exploited a proteogenomic approach to improve conventional genome annotation by integrating proteomic data with genomic information. Using Shigella flexneri 2a as a model, we identified total 823 proteins, including 187 hypothetical proteins. Among them, three annotated ORFs were extended upstream through comprehensive analysis against an in-house N-terminal extension database. Two genes, which could not be translated to their full length because of stop codon 'mutations' induced by genome sequencing errors, were revised and annotated as fully functional genes. Above all, seven new ORFs were discovered, which were not predicted in S. flexneri 2a str.301 by any other annotation approaches. The transcripts of four novel ORFs were confirmed by RT-PCR assay. Additionally, most of these novel ORFs were overlapping genes, some even nested within the coding region of other known genes.
Our findings demonstrate that current Shigella genome annotation methods are not perfect and need to be improved. Apart from the validation of predicted genes at the protein level, the additional features of proteogenomic tools include revision of annotation errors and discovery of novel ORFs. The complementary dataset could provide more targets for those interested in Shigella to perform functional studies.
PMCID: PMC3219829  PMID: 22032405
4.  Combining blue native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry as an effective strategy for analyzing potential membrane protein complexes of Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:40.
Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease in humans caused primarily by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and infects one-third of the world's total population. Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has been widely used to prevent tuberculosis worldwide since 1921. Membrane proteins play important roles in various cellular processes, and the protein-protein interactions involved in these processes may provide further information about molecular organization and cellular pathways. However, membrane proteins are notoriously under-represented by traditional two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2-D PAGE) and little is known about mycobacterial membrane and membrane-associated protein complexes. Here we investigated M. bovis BCG by an alternative proteomic strategy coupling blue native PAGE to liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to characterize potential protein-protein interactions in membrane fractions.
Using this approach, we analyzed native molecular composition of protein complexes in BCG membrane fractions. As a result, 40 proteins (including 12 integral membrane proteins), which were organized in 9 different gel bands, were unambiguous identified. The proteins identified have been experimentally confirmed using 2-D SDS PAGE. We identified MmpL8 and four neighboring proteins that were involved in lipid transport complexes, and all subunits of ATP synthase complex in their monomeric states. Two phenolpthiocerol synthases and three arabinosyltransferases belonging to individual operons were obtained in different gel bands. Furthermore, two giant multifunctional enzymes, Pks7 and Pks8, and four mycobacterial Hsp family members were determined. Additionally, seven ribosomal proteins involved in polyribosome complex and two subunits of the succinate dehydrogenase complex were also found. Notablely, some proteins with high hydrophobicity or multiple transmembrane helixes were identified well in our work.
In this study, we utilized LC-MS/MS in combination with blue native PAGE to characterize modular components of multiprotein complexes in BCG membrane fractions. The results demonstrated that the proteomic strategy was a reliable and reproducible tool for analysis of BCG multiprotein complexes. The identification in our study may provide some evidence for further study of BCG protein interaction.
PMCID: PMC3032701  PMID: 21241518
5.  Global transcriptional analysis of nitrogen fixation and ammonium repression in root-associated Pseudomonas stutzeri A1501 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:11.
Biological nitrogen fixation is highly controlled at the transcriptional level by regulatory networks that respond to the availability of fixed nitrogen. In many diazotrophs, addition of excess ammonium in the growth medium results in immediate repression of nif gene transcription. Although the regulatory cascades that control the transcription of the nif genes in proteobacteria have been well investigated, there are limited data on the kinetics of ammonium-dependent repression of nitrogen fixation.
Here we report a global transcriptional profiling analysis of nitrogen fixation and ammonium repression in Pseudomonas stutzeri A1501, a root-associated and nitrogen-fixing bacterium. A total of 166 genes, including those coding for the global nitrogen regulation (Ntr) and Nif-specific regulatory proteins, were upregulated under nitrogen fixation conditions but rapidly downregulated as early as 10 min after ammonium shock. Among these nitrogen fixation-inducible genes, 95 have orthologs in each of Azoarcus sp. BH72 and Azotobacter vinelandii AvoP. In particular, a 49-kb expression island containing nif and other associated genes was markedly downregulated by ammonium shock. Further functional characterization of pnfA, a new NifA-σ54-dependent gene chromosomally linked to nifHDK, is reported. This gene encodes a protein product with an amino acid sequence similar to that of five hypothetical proteins found only in diazotrophic strains. No noticeable differences in the transcription of nifHDK were detected between the wild type strain and pnfA mutant. However, the mutant strain exhibited a significant decrease in nitrogenase activity under microaerobic conditions and lost its ability to use nitrate as a terminal electron acceptor for the support of nitrogen fixation under anaerobic conditions.
Based on our results, we conclude that transcriptional regulation of nif gene expression in A1501 is mediated by the nif-specific and ntr gene regulatory systems. Furthermore, microarray and mutational analyses revealed that many genes of unknown function may play some essential roles in controlling the expression or activity of nitrogenase. The findings presented here establish the foundation for further studies on the physiological function of nitrogen fixation-inducible genes.
PMCID: PMC2820453  PMID: 20053297
6.  Recent dermatophyte divergence revealed by comparative and phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial genomes 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:238.
Dermatophytes are fungi that cause superficial infections of the skin, hair, and nails. They are the most common agents of fungal infections worldwide. Dermatophytic fungi constitute three genera, Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum, and the evolutionary relationships between these genera are epidemiologically important. Mitochondria are considered to be of monophyletic origin and mitochondrial sequences offer many advantages for phylogenetic studies. However, only one complete dermatophyte mitochondrial genome (E. floccosum) has previously been determined.
The complete mitochondrial DNA sequences of five dermatophyte species, T. rubrum (26,985 bp), T. mentagrophytes (24,297 bp), T. ajelloi (28,530 bp), M. canis (23,943 bp) and M. nanum (24,105 bp) were determined. These were compared to the E. floccosum sequence. Mitochondrial genomes of all 6 species were found to harbor the same set of genes arranged identical order indicating that these dermatophytes are closely related. Genome size differences were largely due to variable lengths of non-coding intergenic regions and the presence/absence of introns. Phylogenetic analyses based on complete mitochondrial genomes reveals that the divergence of the dermatophyte clade was later than of other groups of pathogenic fungi.
This is the first systematic comparative genomic study on dermatophytes, a highly conserved and recently-diverged lineage of ascomycota fungi. The data reported here provide a basis for further exploration of interrelationships between dermatophytes and will contribute to the study of mitochondrial evolution in higher fungi.
PMCID: PMC2693141  PMID: 19457268
7.  Proteomic profile of dormant Trichophyton Rubrum conidia 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:303.
Trichophyton rubrum is the most common dermatophyte causing fungal skin infections in humans. Asexual sporulation is an important means of propagation for T. rubrum, and conidia produced by this way are thought to be the primary cause of human infections. Despite their importance in pathogenesis, the conidia of T. rubrum remain understudied. We intend to intensively investigate the proteome of dormant T. rubrum conidia to characterize its molecular and cellular features and to enhance the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
The proteome of T. rubrum conidia was analyzed by combining shotgun proteomics with sample prefractionation and multiple enzyme digestion. In total, 1026 proteins were identified. All identified proteins were compared to those in the NCBI non-redundant protein database, the eukaryotic orthologous groups database, and the gene ontology database to obtain functional annotation information. Functional classification revealed that the identified proteins covered nearly all major biological processes. Some proteins were spore specific and related to the survival and dispersal of T. rubrum conidia, and many proteins were important to conidial germination and response to environmental conditions.
Our results suggest that the proteome of T. rubrum conidia is considerably complex, and that the maintenance of conidial dormancy is an intricate and elaborate process. This data set provides the first global framework for the dormant T. rubrum conidia proteome and is a stepping stone on the way to further study of the molecular mechanisms of T. rubrum conidial germination and the maintenance of conidial dormancy.
PMCID: PMC2443143  PMID: 18578874
8.  TrED: the Trichophyton rubrum Expression Database 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:250.
Trichophyton rubrum is the most common dermatophyte species and the most frequent cause of fungal skin infections in humans worldwide. It's a major concern because feet and nail infections caused by this organism is extremely difficult to cure. A large set of expression data including expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and transcriptional profiles of this important fungal pathogen are now available. Careful analysis of these data can give valuable information about potential virulence factors, antigens and novel metabolic pathways. We intend to create an integrated database TrED to facilitate the study of dermatophytes, and enhance the development of effective diagnostic and treatment strategies.
All publicly available ESTs and expression profiles of T. rubrum during conidial germination in time-course experiments and challenged with antifungal agents are deposited in the database. In addition, comparative genomics hybridization results of 22 dermatophytic fungi strains from three genera, Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton, are also included. ESTs are clustered and assembled to elongate the sequence length and abate redundancy. TrED provides functional analysis based on GenBank, Pfam, and KOG databases, along with KEGG pathway and GO vocabulary. It is integrated with a suite of custom web-based tools that facilitate querying and retrieving various EST properties, visualization and comparison of transcriptional profiles, and sequence-similarity searching by BLAST.
TrED is built upon a relational database, with a web interface offering analytic functions, to provide integrated access to various expression data of T. rubrum and comparative results of dermatophytes. It is devoted to be a comprehensive resource and platform to assist functional genomic studies in dermatophytes. TrED is available from URL: .
PMCID: PMC1940010  PMID: 17650345
9.  The use of global transcriptional analysis to reveal the biological and cellular events involved in distinct development phases of Trichophyton rubrum conidial germination 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:100.
Conidia are considered to be the primary cause of infections by Trichophyton rubrum.
We have developed a cDNA microarray containing 10250 ESTs to monitor the transcriptional strategy of conidial germination. A total of 1561 genes that had their expression levels specially altered in the process were obtained and hierarchically clustered with respect to their expression profiles. By functional analysis, we provided a global view of an important biological system related to conidial germination, including characterization of the pattern of gene expression at sequential developmental phases, and changes of gene expression profiles corresponding to morphological transitions. We matched the EST sequences to GO terms in the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD). A number of homologues of Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes related to signalling pathways and some important cellular processes were found to be involved in T. rubrum germination. These genes and signalling pathways may play roles in distinct steps, such as activating conidial germination, maintenance of isotropic growth, establishment of cell polarity and morphological transitions.
Our results may provide insights into molecular mechanisms of conidial germination at the cell level, and may enhance our understanding of regulation of gene expression related to the morphological construction of T. rubrum.
PMCID: PMC1871584  PMID: 17428342
10.  Analysis of the dermatophyte Trichophyton rubrum expressed sequence tags 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:255.
Dermatophytes are the primary causative agent of dermatophytoses, a disease that affects billions of individuals worldwide. Trichophyton rubrum is the most common of the superficial fungi. Although T. rubrum is a recognized pathogen for humans, little is known about how its transcriptional pattern is related to development of the fungus and establishment of disease. It is therefore necessary to identify genes whose expression is relevant to growth, metabolism and virulence of T. rubrum.
We generated 10 cDNA libraries covering nearly the entire growth phase and used them to isolate 11,085 unique expressed sequence tags (ESTs), including 3,816 contigs and 7,269 singletons. Comparisons with the GenBank non-redundant (NR) protein database revealed putative functions or matched homologs from other organisms for 7,764 (70%) of the ESTs. The remaining 3,321 (30%) of ESTs were only weakly similar or not similar to known sequences, suggesting that these ESTs represent novel genes.
The present data provide a comprehensive view of fungal physiological processes including metabolism, sexual and asexual growth cycles, signal transduction and pathogenic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC1621083  PMID: 17032460
11.  The use of comparative genomic hybridization to characterize genome dynamics and diversity among the serotypes of Shigella 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:218.
Compelling evidence indicates that Shigella species, the etiologic agents of bacillary dysentery, as well as enteroinvasive Escherichia coli, are derived from multiple origins of Escherichia coli and form a single pathovar. To further understand the genome diversity and virulence evolution of Shigella, comparative genomic hybridization microarray analysis was employed to compare the gene content of E. coli K-12 with those of 43 Shigella strains from all lineages.
For the 43 strains subjected to CGH microarray analyses, the common backbone of the Shigella genome was estimated to contain more than 1,900 open reading frames (ORFs), with a mean number of 726 undetectable ORFs. The mosaic distribution of absent regions indicated that insertions and/or deletions have led to the highly diversified genomes of pathogenic strains.
These results support the hypothesis that by gain and loss of functions, Shigella species became successful human pathogens through convergent evolution from diverse genomic backgrounds. Moreover, we also found many specific differences between different lineages, providing a window into understanding bacterial speciation and taxonomic relationships.
PMCID: PMC3225857  PMID: 16939645
12.  Complete genome sequence of Shigella flexneri 5b and comparison with Shigella flexneri 2a 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:173.
Shigella bacteria cause dysentery, which remains a significant threat to public health. Shigella flexneri is the most common species in both developing and developed countries. Five Shigella genomes have been sequenced, revealing dynamic and diverse features. To investigate the intra-species diversity of S. flexneri genomes further, we have sequenced the complete genome of S. flexneri 5b strain 8401 (abbreviated Sf8401) and compared it with S. flexneri 2a (Sf301).
The Sf8401 chromosome is 4.5-Mb in size, a little smaller than that of Sf301, mainly because the former lacks the SHI-1 pathogenicity island (PAI). Compared with Sf301, there are 6 inversions and one translocation in Sf8401, which are probably mediated by insertion sequences (IS). There are clear differences in the known PAIs between these two genomes. The bacteriophage SfV segment remaining in SHI-O of Sf8401 is clearly larger than the remnants of bacteriophage SfII in Sf301. SHI-1 is absent from Sf8401 but a specific related protein is found next to the pheV locus. SHI-2 is involved in one intra-replichore inversion near the origin of replication, which may change the expression of iut/iuc genes. Moreover, genes related to the glycine-betaine biosynthesis pathway are present only in Sf8401 among the known Shigella genomes.
Our data show that the two S. flexneri genomes are very similar, which suggests a high level of structural and functional conservation between the two serotypes. The differences reflect different selection pressures during evolution. The ancestor of S. flexneri probably acquired SHI-1 and SHI-2 before SHI-O was integrated and the serotypes diverged. SHI-1 was subsequently deleted from the S. flexneri 5b genome by recombination, but stabilized in the S. flexneri 2a genome. These events may have contributed to the differences in pathogenicity and epidemicity between the two serotypes of S. flexneri.
PMCID: PMC1550401  PMID: 16822325

Results 1-12 (12)